Last month, we reported the bizarre case of a man who received 46.3 million yen in COVID-19 relief payments of 100,000 yen intended for 463 households in Abu Yamaguchi prefecture. The mayor at the time apologized for the clerical error and was trying to recover the money. However, there have been quite some revelations since then.
Let’s first recall how this incident even started in the first place. The town made a list of all applicants to execute the transfer and then sent it to the bank on a floppy disk. And yes, despite their resolution to ditch these stone-age devices, they are still around.
The problem was, in addition to the floppy disk, the transfer order for the town was also sent online. The account of the man in question stood at the top of this list. However, it was formatted incorrectly so that the bank mistakenly thought it was a proxy for the fact that all money should be sent to the first place and then filtered into the correct accounts.
The man saw the money in his account on April 8 and thought he had experienced one of those angels-devil-shoulder moments. But the devil won quickly. He began to move amounts of 600,000 yen each day for two weeks until he was caught. The town soon realized what had happened and started looking for the money. They tried to contact the man immediately after finding out where it had gone but were unsuccessful.
They finally met him on April 21. He informed them that the money had been taken from his account and he would not run.
Officials were in a difficult position as they technically gave the money to him by mistake, and it wasn’t theft. After consulting lawyers and law enforcement, they finally filed a lawsuit against him on May 12. They sought 51.16 million yen, for the money he took and legal fees.
The problem was that he had already run off
He emptied his bank account, quit his job and fled his home when it took for the town to bring legal action against him. The man was not living in Abu for very long. He had only moved there through the Vacant Bank program in October 2020. These programs allow rural property owners to rent out vacant properties while attracting young people to repopulate the area through tax breaks.
Reporters talked to the landlord of the house, who described the 24-year old man as “a good kid, young, and handsome”. He also stated that he has received rent for May but is unsure if that will continue.
This clerical error has created a circus, and newsreaders are shocked and embarrassed by the events that have taken place so far.
If you think about it, Japan has an excellent police surveillance system. So that person would have to hide himself to stay away from them, which would require quite the sum. Thus, the money he would just use to hide himself and his idea of running away might be useless.
However, he hasn’t technically committed any crime, so perhaps the police won’t bother looking for him. Nikkan Gendai interviewed a lawyer to confirm that the lawsuit would proceed and would be in favour of the town. However, if things continue as they are, the order to pay damages will be null after ten years.
Also read about Tokyo Authorities Finally Decide To Stop Using Floppy Disks